College Basketball Best Bets: Our Staff’s 3 Top Picks for NYE (Saturday, Dec. 31)
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Nathan Mensah (San Diego State)
College football will rule the national landscape on Saturday, but did you really think we were going to forget about college basketball?
Not only is the slate strong, but most of the games tip off before the CFP begins at 4 p.m. ET. That gives us plenty of time to bet on both, but we also have a later Mountain West play for you below if you want to stick with the basketball side of things.
Get your three best bets and the top college basketball odds and picks now.
Saturday’s 3 College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that we’re targeting from Saturday’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
St. John’s vs. Seton Hall
I’m going right back to the well and fading Seton Hall.
So, both these teams are on a losing streak. Generally, I’m looking to bet teams on losing streaks in great bounce-back spots.
I don’t think that rule applies to Seton Hall right now, though. I think the Pirates are broken, and I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Watching Seton Hall play offense is like watching Michael Cera act. It’s like watching a flamingo in an agility competition. It’s like watching your not-so-funny friend try out a comedy career.
It’s awkward. Everything is so hard with Seton Hall.
The Pirates have no consistent sets and no half-court cohesion, and they accidentally run into each other more than any offense I’ve ever seen.
Shaheen Holloway is a great defensive coach and motivator, but his Peacocks teams were never great offensively, and he’s not making the X’s and O’s jump to the Big East.
Now, the team that’s 333rd in offensive turnover rate is hosting a St. John’s team predicated on ball pressure and creating fast-break points off turnovers. It’s the worst possible matchup I can imagine.
I don’t have a great feel for St. John’s, but I know the Red Storm aren’t bottom feeders. They have non-conference wins against Nebraska and Syracuse, solid defensive metrics and have hit the offensive boards hard.
Additionally, it’s hard to fade the backcourt duo of Posh Alexander and Andre Curbelo, especially when Kadary Richmond and Al-Amir Dawes have a combined ORtg under 95.
I also think Mike Anderson should rally the troops after losing the last two games. The bounce-back rule doesn’t apply to Seton Hall, but I’ll happily apply it to St. John’s.
Oh yeah, and did I mention the team that can’t score is laying over a possession? That’s everything you need to know about this game.
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Texas Tech vs. TCU
I love backing experienced teams at the start of conference play, and this play on TCU is no different.
The Horned Frogs came into the season with high expectations after returning nearly everyone of significance from last year’s team that almost upset Arizona in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
But injuries and a suspension got in their way to start this new campaign.
The Horned Frogs struggled in the opening weeks, but Mike Miles Jr. — their leading scorer — was injured and Damion Baugh — a key piece on both ends of the floor — was suspended.
Sure, they shouldn’t have lost at home to Northwestern State even without those two, but Jamie Dixon’s bunch has ripped off nine straight wins since then, including victories over then No. 25 Iowa and Providence.
As for this matchup against Texas Tech, I don’t think the Red Raiders can be trusted right now, especially in a conference road game. They don’t have an elite, true shot creator that can make plays when needed, and Utah Valley transfer Fardaws Aimaq is still out.
Daniel Batcho (13.3 PPG, 8.3 RPG) has taken a monster leap this season, but Eddie Lampkin Jr. will be able to match — or at least contain — the sophomore on the interior.
Defense should rule this game — Texas Tech is 29th in AdD and TCU is 22nd — and that normally favors the underdog. But turnovers and scoring will be an issue for Texas Tech in this game, and I feel much more confident in TCU’s experienced ball-handlers, especially at home.
San Diego State vs. UNLV
There won’t be many free wins in the Mountain West this year and every road trip presents a challenge. UNLV will look to get right on Saturday when Brian Dutcher and San Diego State Aztecs visit Las Vegas.
SDSU was the clear favorite to win the league and will need to keep pace with surprise challenger, New Mexico. UNLV had a solid non-conference, but there’s some troubling signs in the underlying metrics that suggest it’ll have a problem matching up with San Diego State.
Those troubling signs have especially popped up with two losses in the last three games.
Without Bryce Hamilton, the Rebels don’t have enough reliable scoring in the half-court. They’ve been great when they face a team without ball handlers that they can turnover and score on in transition.
However, trying to speed up San Diego State is a really difficult task as the Aztecs are the masters of forcing teams to play at their pace. UNLV won’t be able to get enough in the half-court to keep up with San Diego State.
The Rebels’ defense forces teams to play isolation ball to generate offense, and the Aztecs should get enough scoring from Matt Bradley and their quietly improving ball-screen offense to win this game on the road.